An alternative to getting the f*** out.

“A design leader finds where poor design is costing the organization money and pain. […] When the boss comes to ask, the design leader will be ready with answers for them.” — Jared Spool

Another excellent read from Jared Spool. How do you make yourself valuable as a designer to your boss? Stop assuming they will instinctively see the ROI. Show them how good design saves them money.

They don’t teach you this deeper level of design leadership in art school. If I had known this fifteen years ago, I probably wouldn’t have thrown in the towel and changed jobs as often as I had. Those of us who understand good design need to take it upon ourselves to explain it to the people who are buried in the day-to-day slog of running the business.

Read the article: Yes, Alan, There Is An ROI For UX Design

Tim Berners-Lee’s regret and hope for the web.

“You don’t have to have any coding skills. You just have to have a heart to decide enough is enough. Get out your Magic Marker and your signboard and your broomstick. And go out on the streets.” — Tim Berners-Lee A great interview of Tim Berners-Lee on Vanity Fair. I’ve had an on-again/off-again relationship with the open web. This article makes me want to get more serious about it. I had a general understanding of level at which the big tech companies were collecting data. Now I can see that it’s much worse than I realized. We deserve a better web, a decentralized web were we are in control of our data and not beholding to large corporations.

To Berners-Lee’s quote, one of the things any of us can do is to educate those who use the web casually (e.g., our aunts & uncles, moms & dads, and spouses) about what is being stolen from them and how it’s being used. When the general population of the web begins to more completely understand the issue, that’s when the change will really begin to happen.

Read the article: “I Was Devastated”

Principles of Good Web Design

This past week I was asked to write down what makes a good website. In other words, what makes the sites I build better than the ones a non-professional could make on their own with an online service like Wix, SquareSpace, or I’ve had this list of ideas in my head forever, but until now I’ve never written them down. Doing so has given them even more importance in the work I do. They guide the decisions I make. Coming up with metaphors to make some complex, and seemingly unnecessary, parts of web design more accessible has given me more confidence to explain why they are important to clients in language they can understand.

Continue reading Principles of Good Web Design

Debbie Millman Cuts the Crap

You make the time to do what you want to do. That gets back to the other thing that I say all the time, which is busy is a decision. If you say, “I’m to busy to make self-generated work, or to make work that I feel is different, or attempts to be original in some way,” then it’s just not a priority. It’s just not something you really, really, really want to do. Because, we somehow find the time to watch Game of Thrones, or House of Cards, or Homeland, or whatever it is. If we have time to binge watch a TV show, or spend three hours last night watching the Grammys, you have time to make work.

I recently listened to that Overtime Podcast interview with Debbie Millman. In it, she had that great quote up there that I absolutely love because she basically described me and my work habits to a “T”. The only thing that would have put this quote closer to the bullseye would be to replace Game of Thrones, House of Cards, and Homeland with Seinfeld, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and Bob’s Burgers.

Continue reading Debbie Millman Cuts the Crap

The Recap: The Business of Expertise

My boss gave me this book to read. I don’t normally read business books because so few of them explain anything in a way that you can actually put to use. Usually it’s all theoretical and the authors never address their natural gifts… or luck… or massive fortunes. The Business of Expertise is different though. Not only does David C. Baker explain the importance of expertise, he tells you how to define your expertise and become an expert in your field. Its plain spoken, logical, and objective. Most importantly, with just a little bit of focus and hard work the goals are achievable. No jargon. No bullshit. No “advice” that requires a pantload of money; living in New York City; or, being profoundly lucky.

Continue reading The Recap: The Business of Expertise

The Event Apart 2017 – Day 3

An Event Apart: Day 3

I had every intention of getting my Day 3 take-aways up on the day of, but after a great talk with two other awesome AEA attendees after the show; a four hour drive home (featuring a minor fender bender—not my fault); I was too burned up to even start it. I still want to give a summary though. It helps me cement what I learned, and I apparently have a reader or two now. Neat!

Continue reading The Event Apart 2017 – Day 3

The Event Apart 2017 – Day 1


An Event Apart 2017 Day 1

It’s the end of August again, so that means I am back in Chicago for my yearly recharge, attending An Event Apart. This is the fourth year I’ve come, and once again the show is living up to it’s billing. A few of the talks felt a little too familiar and others were so crammed with information that the speakers were breathlessly racing through them. I suspect that is only because I have been to enough of these conferences (and read enough books, and listened to enough Podcasts) that what I am learning is sticking! I’ve caught up (for now). I’m not drinking from the fire hose, and I guess, in a sick sort of way, I miss that. Chris Coyier and Rachel Andrews gave me my fix though, and by the time things wrapped up I had a head full of ideas and was getting excited about some new possibilities all over again. Continue reading The Event Apart 2017 – Day 1

The Book Report: Atomic Design

Atomic Design - Rust Belt Co.

I first heard Brad Frost give a talk on Atomic Design back in 2014 at An Event Apart: Chicago. I didn’t understand everything he was saying, but it looked like a glimpse into the future of development. Up until that time, I had never heard of Atomic Design, modular design, or pattern libraries. When it came time for me to build a site, I just sat down and built it. Top to bottom. You know the drill; header, navigation, main content, side content, footer. Copy. Paste. Repeat. Changes sucked, but whatever.

Continue reading The Book Report: Atomic Design